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Minnesota lawmaker promises new push to stop female genital mutilation

Judge found federal law against the practice unconstitutional.

Posted: Nov 26, 2018 3:35 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minnesota lawmaker said Monday that she plans a fresh push next year to strengthen a state law against female genital mutilation in the wake of a judge's declaration last week that a federal law against the practice is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Bernhard Friedman, of Detroit, ruled last Tuesday that Congress lacks the authority to regulate the practice, but that states can do so under laws that criminalize sexual battery and abuse. The judge dismissed most criminal charges against a Michigan doctor accused of cutting nine girls from three states, including Minnesota.

Franson, an Alexandria Republican, said Friedman's ruling underscores the need for her bill, which passed the House 124-4 in 2017, but never got a vote or hearing in the Senate in the 2017 or 2018 sessions. The Michigan case was the impetus for her bill.

"I will never stop fighting for the safety of little girls, and will keep working to put an end to this barbaric practice and punish parents who subject their daughters to these horrors," she said in a statement.

Minnesota law makes it a felony for anyone to perform the procedure, but doesn't directly address the actions of parents. Franson's bill would make it a felony for parents to knowingly allow it, and would expand the authority of child protection authorities to take girls away from parents who allow it. A tiered system of penalties would range as high as 20 years in prison, compared with the current five-year maximum.

The World Health Organization says there is no health benefit to female genital mutilation, also known as female circumcision or cutting, and it can cause numerous health problems. The practice is common in parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East and is generally performed as a way of controlling a girl's sexuality.

Under current state law, parents who arrange or knowingly allow the procedure on a daughter can be charged with the crime of aiding and abetting the crime of female genital mutilation or with child neglect or endangerment, according to a report by the nonpartisan Minnesota House Research Department, which noted that both of those offenses are felonies.

Some opponents of the bill in 2017 said they considered it unnecessary. They also said they feared it could lead to unintended consequences, such as discouraging families from seeking health care, family separations and deportations, and pushing the practice even farther underground.

While 27 states have laws against female genital mutilation, 23 others don't, according to the AHA Foundation, which works to protect women from the practice as well as honor violence and forced marriages.

Franson said in her statement that she would request a prompt hearing from the incoming chairwoman of the House health and human services committee, Democratic Rep. Rena Moran of St. Paul. She pointed out that Moran was one of the four legislators who voted against her bill in 2017.

Moran did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 56560

Reported Deaths: 1656
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin18009819
Ramsey6944261
Dakota3991103
Anoka3365113
Stearns283120
Washington191743
Nobles17466
Olmsted162923
Scott139014
Mower10812
Rice9998
Blue Earth8525
Wright8135
Carver7792
Clay74540
Kandiyohi6761
Sherburne6497
St. Louis43619
Todd4202
Lyon4163
Freeborn3541
Steele3301
Nicollet31213
Benton3063
Watonwan2980
Winona24716
Crow Wing21313
Martin2045
Le Sueur2011
Beltrami1930
Chisago1791
Goodhue1768
Otter Tail1763
Cottonwood1710
Becker1431
Pipestone1439
Unassigned14040
McLeod1380
Itasca13212
Polk1313
Douglas1300
Waseca1280
Pine1270
Carlton1250
Dodge1230
Murray1221
Isanti1100
Chippewa981
Brown852
Faribault830
Meeker832
Morrison831
Wabasha810
Sibley792
Koochiching743
Rock740
Pennington721
Jackson700
Mille Lacs653
Fillmore610
Renville595
Cass582
Lincoln540
Swift521
Grant491
Yellow Medicine490
Roseau460
Pope430
Houston390
Norman340
Redwood300
Kanabec291
Hubbard280
Marshall280
Wilkin283
Aitkin270
Mahnomen231
Wadena230
Big Stone220
Red Lake200
Lake180
Clearwater150
Stevens150
Traverse100
Lac qui Parle60
Kittson40
Cook20
Lake of the Woods10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 45774

Reported Deaths: 883
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk9723203
Woodbury365151
Black Hawk300362
Linn210887
Johnson193315
Dallas178935
Buena Vista178512
Scott159312
Dubuque153729
Marshall138924
Pottawattamie121723
Story110914
Wapello84932
Muscatine82648
Webster7255
Crawford7193
Sioux5952
Cerro Gordo57617
Tama53729
Warren5281
Jasper45524
Plymouth4438
Wright4431
Louisa37914
Dickinson3754
Clinton3173
Washington28710
Hamilton2411
Boone2282
Franklin2205
Bremer1877
Clarke1863
Carroll1811
Emmet1791
Clay1711
Hardin1650
Shelby1611
Marion1530
Allamakee1514
Poweshiek1468
Benton1431
Jackson1411
Des Moines1392
Mahaska13617
Floyd1292
Guthrie1265
Jones1242
Cedar1201
Hancock1172
Butler1142
Henry1133
Pocahontas1131
Buchanan1111
Lyon1020
Madison1022
Clayton983
Cherokee971
Harrison970
Lee953
Taylor930
Humboldt921
Delaware901
Monona900
Iowa891
Winneshiek851
Calhoun822
Mills820
Fayette810
Sac810
Palo Alto790
Kossuth780
Jefferson770
Osceola770
Mitchell760
Page760
Winnebago760
Grundy741
Union701
Monroe677
Worth610
Chickasaw510
Cass481
Davis481
Howard480
Lucas454
Montgomery433
Appanoose423
Greene380
Fremont350
Van Buren321
Keokuk301
Ida290
Audubon281
Decatur220
Adair210
Ringgold211
Adams160
Wayne161
Unassigned80
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